Hip-hop industry veteran Russell Simmons’ company All Def Digital has signed a multi-project content partnership with Che Pope, longtime Kanye West affiliate and chief operating officer at West’s G.O.O.D. Music label, according to Simmons and ADD CEO Sanjay Sharma. Initially, the deal will involve two video projects, with more to come in the future.
Pope began his career as a producer and engineer, working on projects with the Fugees and on Lauryn Hill’s multi-Grammy-winning Miseducation of Lauryn Hilland later moving into film scoring alongside Hans Zimmer and joining Dr. Dre’s Aftermath production crew, where he contributed to Eminem and 50 Cent projects. He began working with West in 2012, serving as executive producer for G.O.O.D. Music’s compilation album Cruel Summer, as an A&R for releases by Big Sean and Pusha T (2013’s Hall of Fame and My Name Is My Name, respectively) and contributing to West’s Yeezus, A$AP Rocky’s At.Long.Last.A$AP and The Weeknd’s Beauty Behind the Madness, among a slew of other credits.
“Che has always had such a strong, and distinct, insight into music and the culture,” Sharma said in a statement announcing the partnership. “His unique contributions to Lauryn Hill’s Miseducation, working with Hans Zimmer, to several years working closely with Dr. Dre to more recently with with the Weeknd, A$AP Rocky and of course Kanye West, gives him such an expansive range of creative ideas to work with across time periods, personalities, stories and genres.”
Founded by Simmons in 2013, ADD has focused on urban youth programming centered around music, comedy, poetry, news and art. The online network and digital producer reaches more than 100 million people across YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms and last month had accumulated 300 million views. Simmons, in a statement, explained the first two projects on which Pope would be a collaborator.
“We have a project called My Block, where we bring artists back to their home towns, back to the street where they were born,” Simmons said. “And a project called Robber Radio, telling the untold story of the role of pirate radio in hip-hop. Che is one of the few in the industry who has the authentic connection to the talent and the music from back in the day, still to this day, and yet also has spot-on creative instincts in video storytelling.”
ADD, which in June raised $10 million from investors including Allen DeBevoise’s Third Wave Digital Partners, WPP Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz, has recently expanded beyond its digital roots, airing All Def Comedy on HBO, launching roast comedy franchise All Def Roast on Fusion and hosting the All Def Movie Awards.
“I’ve known and admired Russell, as so many of us in hip hop have, for years,” Pope said in his own statement. “I have seen what he and the team at All Def have been building over a very short time, the size of the audience, the authenticity of the content, and knew that they would be the perfect partner as I expand into narrative series and filmmaking.”